On Friday night we attended our first Field Naturalist meeting in Ballarat.  By asking myself the simple question, ‘What do we have on our land?’ I have discovered the pleasure of finding a bird or a plant, and classifying it. The Field Naturalists seemed a logical progression, but for various reasons  Friday was the first opportunity I had to attend a meeting.

When I first began this blog, I intended to write about the journey to self-sufficiency. Instead I found myself drawn to the plants, animals and natural forms I found in our bushland.  Over time, I’ve tried to improve my photographic skills, only posting photos I thought were ‘good enough’ or noteworthy enough.  On Friday night, listening to one of the Field Naturalist members talk about his encounters with birds,  I was reminded of the joy of simply watching something unfold before my eyes.

This post was inspired by that talk. The photos below were taken in late August when mating season was just getting underway.  Two Pacific Black Ducks were having a prolonged battle ranging over our entire dam. A third duck, I presume a female, seemed to be following within good viewing distance,  always keeping out of reach of the action.

Pacific Black Duck 01
I’m not sure if this was the beginning of the sparring match or not, but my first glimpse was of two ducks landing on the dam.
The chase begins
Almost immediately, the chase began.
Olympic Swimmers
Pacific Black Ducks are so entertaining to watch. They often swim extremely fast, tearing around from one end to the other.
Taking to he air
Occasionally the duck being pursued would take to the air to gain an advantage.
Walking on water
The half-flying, half-swimming approach was also adopted.
Hop, skip and jump
I think this is my favourite photo of the day – it reminds me of those old cartoons where the dust hangs in the air.
Gripping action
I can’t help noticing that the bird observing is swimming hard to keep up with the action,
Another 'splash dash'
Neither bird was giving up easily.
Is this the end?
Um, no… it’s not the end of the battle, just a bit of space for a breather before it begins again.
The chase begins again
Heading back to the house side of the dam, the ducks begin chase again.
A flash of green
I love the sun glinting off the wings in this photo.
... and so it continues
This is where I stopped taking photos, but it wasn’t the end of the battle. They continued for an hour or so, and had further battles later that day, and throughout the week.

After all of this action, I’m not sure who won! I also have not seen any Pacific Black Duck offspring, so if they nested, I think it was elsewhere. We don’t have any safe nesting ground for water birds, as the dam does not have an island.  I have to say, though, that I was captivated by the speed and agility of these ducks compared to the sedate and measured Australian Wood Ducks who visit more frequently.  Even when the arrive solo, the Pacific Black Ducks swim fast. I look forward to their return.